A tennis grip is a way of holding the racket in order to hit shots during a match.
The first step to tennis success is understanding how to hold the racket for each stroke. There are so many ways to hold your racket for each shot you try, so it’s critical to learn which shots are possible with each grip. The grip is critical in changing the angle of the racket face organically when you make contact with the ball.
If you are a beginning player, this will help you learn the many shots available. If you’ve been playing for some time now and are an intermediate player, this may help you come up with some improvements you can make to your game.
The information below will teach beginners and advanced players the simple steps they may take to acquire new racket grips and apply them to different strokes. Feel free to skip ahead to the topic of your choice.
- Grip History
- Grip Fundamentals
- Grip Types
- Who Are the Players Using the Continental Grip?
- Who Are the Players Using the Eastern Forehand Grip?
- Who Are the Players Using the Eastern Backhand Grip?
- Who Are the Players Using the Semi-Western Grip?
- Who Are the Players Using the Western Grip?
- Who Are the Players Using the Double-Handed Backhand Grip?
- Grip Selection
- Grip of The Pros
- Grip Size
- Find Your Grip Size
- Final Thoughts
Because grass courts are the quickest and provide the lowest bounce of any surface type, the continental grip is great for striking balls below the hips. On the other hand, wooden rackets were the norm through the seventies, and their frames and smaller racket heads didn’t give you much power.
With that, players could control their shots with sound technique and a little bit of spin, emphasizing that the continental grip was the bottom line of racket grips. As the game continued to grow, it got more competitive, and players’ fitness routines improved vastly.
The introduction of spin-friendly polyester strings in the nineties enabled players to swing for more speed and get more topspin on the ball, allowing them to be more consistent along with a more powerful game. Finally, shifting away from grass courts as the main playing surface and improvements in racket and string technology resulted in a shift in how players would grip their rackets.
The eastern forehand grip was the first to appear, making it easier to get spin on the ball and ushering in a transition toward a dominant baseline game. The semi-western grip gained popularity in the eighties, with players like Andre Agassi using the grip and hitting almost entirely from behind the baseline. It didn’t stop there as players experimented with the western grip.
To fully wrap your head around the many different strokes in tennis, you must first learn how to grip a tennis racket correctly. First, a player must find the two key features on their hand that will aid in finding the correct grip.
The knuckle at your index finger and your heel pad are the two key markers on the palm side of your hand. The handle of a tennis racket is octagonal, with eight sides known as bevels. The bevels provide a reference point for various grip types and a comfortable shape to hold the racket.
The Grip Octagonal Shape
The bevels on the bottom of the racket handle are numbered 1 through 8, with number 1 being the top bevel. They are numbered counter-clockwise for right-handed players and clockwise for left-handed players.
As a result, if you’re a righty who rotates the racket counter-clockwise, the next bevel that faces up is #2. The same would be true as a lefty if you rotated it clockwise.
The continental grip was dominant in the early days of the sport. Wooden racquets with natural gut strings were the norm. Until 1974, three of the world’s most prestigious championships, including Wimbledon, the Australian Open, and the US Open, were played on grass.
This versatile grip is used for your serve, volley, overhead, slice, chip, drop shot and defensive shot. With the Continental grip, put your index knuckle and heel pad on bevel number 2. You are in the right position if your thumb and fingers form a V across the top of the handle.
One can apply its neutral grip for forehand or backhand shots, which also makes it great for hitting quick volleys at the net without changing your grip. It’s good for overheads and most serves as it lets you snap your wrist easily on contact to generate more power without putting extra strain on your arm. It’s also great for defending against low shots such as slice backhands, drop shots, wide balls or even high balls that bounce to about shoulder height.
The continental grip is not the ideal option for generating topspin, with the result of not being able to hit shots with spin consistently. It requires a lot of grip and wrist strength. It needs better balance and precise shoulder turn to make solid contact. It has less inherent power than some other grips and can cause players to be lazy or hit the ball late because the contact point is closer to the body.
Who Are the Players Using the Continental Grip?
Martina Navratilova, Stefan Edberg, John McEnroe, Rod Laver, Margaret Court, Billie Jean King.
Eastern Forehand Grip
This grip will feel comfortable and natural to most players, especially beginners picking up a racquet for the first time. For that reason, most tennis coaches teach the Eastern forehand grip as a starting point before moving on to other grips.
To find the Eastern grip, place the palm-side knuckle of your index finger on bevel number 3 (or the seventh bevel if you are a lefty).
It is an easy-to-learn versatile grip, allowing players to comfortably switch to other grips during a point. It allows for aggressive play, low net clearance, quick advances to the net and a low bounce, thus often putting pressure on your opponent. It also helps players flatten out the ball, which is beneficial in competitive match play since it leads to more consistent ball striking.
With this grip, high bouncing balls are difficult to control. It can also be challenging to generate topspin consistently. The lesser amount of spin also means less net clearance increasing the chances of missing long or in the net. The eastern forehand grip flattens out the ball, often ending in shorter rallies. This can be a drawback when players try to stay in points.
Who Are the Players Using the Eastern Forehand Grip?
Roger Federer, Bjorn Borg, Chris Evert, Pete Sampras, Steffi Graf, Serena Williams, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Grigor Dimitrov, Radek Stepanek, Martin Del Potro, Roberto Bautista Agut, Petra Kvitová, Lindsay Davenport, Angelique Kerber.
Eastern Backhand Grip
The eastern backhand grip is the most popular among the backhand tennis grips for a one-handed backhand these days and is found by placing your heel pad and index knuckle on bevel number one. This grip allows for significant spin and control and may be complemented by combining it with the Western forehand grip, which utilizes the exact same grip.
Allows for better control and the ability to generate topspin. Quick and easy transition to continental grip for volleying when at the net. It’s great for hitting a kick-serve.
High-bouncing balls are difficult to hit.
Who Are the Players Using the Eastern Backhand Grip?
Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka, Chris Evert, Pete Sampras, Steffi Graf, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Dominic Thiem, Denis Shapavalov.
The Semi-Western forehand grip, or frying pan grip, is currently one of the most common forehand grips among tennis pros and is often associated with the modern tennis forehand. It’s a grip halfway between the traditional Eastern grip and the extreme Full-western grip used by several players labeled as power baseliners.
The Semi-Western forehand grip is a very versatile grip with a contact point between hip and shoulder height and is a little further out in front of the body than the Eastern forehand. To find the Semi-western grip, put the palm-side knuckle of your index finger on the fourth bevel (or on the sixth bevel if you are a lefty).
The Semi-Western backhand grip is equal to the Semi-Western forehand grip but not as popular as the latter. If the forehand is played with a Semi-Western grip, there is no need to switch grips as the ball is struck with the same face of the racket. You find the Semi-Western backhand grip by placing your heel pad and index knuckle on bevel number eight.
The semi-western grip’s primary benefit is generating decent power and maximum topspin. Players with a Semi Western grip can hit the ball much higher over the net, resulting in increased control and consistency. The extra bit of net clearance also increases the margin for error, allowing players to hit more aggressively from the baseline.
Hitting extremely low balls isn’t ideal for the semi-western forehand grip. It also can be difficult to quickly transition from a forehand to volleying when approaching the net.
Who Are the Players Using the Semi-Western Grip?
Carlos Alcaraz, Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Ashleigh Barty, Andy Murray, David Nalbandian, Ivan Ljubičić, Fernando González, James Blake, Marat Safin, Emma Raducanu.
The western forehand grip, sometimes called a full-western grip, is a more extreme variant of the Semi-Western grip that naturally generates enormous amounts of topspin. It works great for baseline players on most slow-moving clay courts, allowing them to deal with high-bouncing balls more easily and hit more powerful shots while keeping the ball in the court.
Because the racket face is slightly closed, this grip might be difficult for low balls, as can fast grip changes for volleys. Western grips can also be difficult for beginners to master. The Western grip requires you to place the palm side knuckle of your index finger on the fifth bevel whether you play with your right or left hand.
It’s much easier to generate huge amounts of heavy topspin than with any other grips. The high net clearance allows players a more aggressive playing style while increasing the margin of error and making your game much more consistent. The heavy topspin resulting in a high and fast bounce puts opponents under pressure to step into the ball for an earlier contact point, particularly on clay and higher bouncing courts.
Low balls are extremely difficult to hit, particularly on a fast surface with a low bounce, like grass or astroturf. It takes more time to switch from a Western to an Eastern or continental grip when at the net. It requires excellent timing and precision. It can be hard to hit flat shots and/or winners. It can strain the wrist and forearm, leading to chronic tennis injuries.
Who Are the Players Using the Western Grip?
Karen Khachanov, Kyle Edmund, Jack Sock, Kei Nishikori, Robin Soderling, Jim Courier, Ernests Gulbis, Florian Mayer, Nick Kyrgios, Iga Swiatek, Coco Gauff, Alexander Zverev.
Double-Handed Backhand Grip
The two-handed backhand can be a powerful, stable and consistent stroke. It is arguably more popular on today’s tour with pros and juniors. The most common two-handed backhand grip is characterized by the Continental Grip on your dominant hand and the Eastern Forehand Grip on your non-dominant hand.
It is less difficult to learn as it requires less strength. The stability provided by having a second arm driving through the ball allows for greater control. It’s easier to generate power because the force is basically coming from a forehand position on your non-dominant hand. It’s easier to return serves because of the extra stability the second hand provides and can be hit in an open stance.
It takes longer to set up, and the player has less reach, making it harder to retrieve balls hit into the corners.
Who Are the Players Using the Double-Handed Backhand Grip?
Andre Agassi, Novak Djokovic, Marat Safin, David Nalbandian, Andy Murray, Serena Williams, Monica Seles, Rafael Nadal, Ashleigh Barty, Aryna Sabalenka, Jimmy Connors, Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev.
The tennis grips you use have a huger impact on your playing style. This is because the racket grip defines how much spin and/or power you can generate. One grip is not better than the other, and you should pick a grip that fits your playing style. If you play a more aggressive game, use a grip that lets you hit through the ball and put more pace on it (think Rublev or Sinner).
If you are a more consistent player, select a grip that allows you to generate more spin (think Alcaraz). A grip, like a racket or a playing style, should be based on what best suits your tennis game and skill level. Ultimately, everything comes down to personal preference and your level of achievement.
Although each grip has advantages and disadvantages, as previously said, there is no right or wrong, better or worse grip. Everything is dependent on the situation and the type of player you are. If you’re not sure where to begin and want some tips on which grips to use, here are some suggestions:
- Forehand: Semi-Western
- Backhand: Eastern
- Serve, Volleys, Backhand Slice, etc.: Continental
Many players will find these grips ideal, but they are extremely simple to experiment with, so don’t limit yourself to these as your only option.
Grip of The Pros
As a tennis professional and coach, I understand my students’ irritation when constantly corrected or coached on the “ideal” tennis racket grip. Although it may appear redundant, grips in tennis are there for a reason. The goal is for each player to be able to perform the shot chosen with ease and precision.
Most pros on tour today have slight variations of the five main tennis grips to suit their style of play. The selection of tennis grips is ultimately up to the player and what best matches their playing style.
Now that we’ve covered the best ways to hold a tennis racket, we can discuss another crucial aspect of your tennis grip: grip size. Each racket is available in various grip sizes, and you must select the appropriate one. A too-small grip will require extra strength to keep the racket from spinning in your hand.
On the other hand, a broad grip makes changing grips and adding spin to your shots difficult. In the long run, playing a racket with the wrong grip size might result in ailments like tennis elbow. When shopping for a racquet, you’ll usually come across options with the following grip sizes:
Find Your Grip Size
There are two main methods for determining the grip size of a tennis racket:
The Index Finger Method:
This is arguably the most common way of evaluating grip size, and it’s especially handy if you’re testing out new tennis racquets in a store and have the opportunity to hold the grip. Simply grasp the racquet handle and look at the space between your fingers tips and your palm.
The gap should be roughly the width of your index finger for the ideal grip size. We recommend trying a size larger and smaller once you’ve found a close match for your grip size. It’s a terrific technique to ensure you’re more comfortable with that grip than a smaller or larger one. However, this is only a suggestion, and your grip should be based almost completely on which grip size you find most comfortable.
The Ruler Method:
If you’re looking to buy a tennis racquet online and don’t have the opportunity to personally feel the grip, measuring the size of your hand with a tape measure or ruler is an excellent way to determine the size of your tennis grip.
Simply open your hand with your fingers fully extended to measure your grip size with a ruler, and you’ll notice two wide lines going almost horizontally across the palm of your hand. Align the bottom lateral crease with the end of your ruler or measuring tape and measure to the tip of your ring finger.
What if I’m in Between Sizes?
It is quite normal for a player to be unable to identify the optimal grip size. If you’re “in-between” sizes and not growing, go with the smaller one and modify the thickness with an overgrip. It is simple to enhance grip size using an overgrip (which normally increases the size by 1/16 of an inch). On the other hand, a greater grip size cannot be reduced (unless you manually shave the handle down, which can be extremely difficult).
What About Finding the Right Grip Size for Juniors?
Choose the slightly larger grip size for juniors, as children may likely grow into a grip size that is a little too big for them at first.
After you’ve learned about grip styles and grip sizes, the last thing you should consider is the racket’s overgrip. Overgrips are cloth-like tapes that are put over the original grip of a tennis racket, providing tennis players with an extra layer of comfort, stability, and perspiration absorption.
There are dozens of different overgrip alternatives available from various manufacturers, but they all fall into three categories: dry, sticky, and all-around. Each has distinct advantages, and you should select the one that best suits your needs. Each of the three categories will be discussed in detail below.
These overgrips are ideal for players who sweat or play in humid conditions. They are often thinner and absorb moisture incredibly effectively, allowing you to keep superb control of your racket even when completely saturated in sweat. Unfortunately, I’ve cracked a few rackets after they slipped out of my grip after a serve. It’s a terrible sensation, and you don’t want to make that mistake again.
On the other hand, these dry grips help avoid that, so you might want to try these if you tend to sweat while playing. The best dry grips I’d recommend are from Tourna Grip. The disadvantage of these grips is that, because they are thinner, they can become worn out quickly and may need to be replaced frequently. Try some Tacky or All-Around overgrips if that doesn’t work for you.
On the other hand, Tacky overgrips have a very “sticky” sensation. They will, however, provide you with a firm grip on your racket at all times, and they are usually well-cushioned and last longer than dry grips. I used tacky overgrips for the majority of my career because I liked the feeling they gave me. In addition, I’ve never had a problem with excessive sweating, so the tacky overgrips provided the perfect grip.
Tourna Grip and Wilson are the best brands for tacky overgrips, in my opinion. I’ve used both in the past, and they’re both excellent. The Tourna Grip overgrip is the tackiest, but the Wilson overgrip is slightly less expensive. However, they are both good, and you can get them for a low price.
Finally, you can go with all-around overgrips. They are a hybrid of dry and tacky overgrips, as they begin tacky and transition to a drier grip after a few uses. They’re a good option if you’re not particularly fond of the two overgrips mentioned above. Babolat’s Pro Tour overgrips are the best option for all-around overgrips because they have a tacky feel and are absorbent.
If you want to make your overall grip thicker, or if your old grip has become too dry, it may be time to replace or add an overgrip.
Overgrips versus Replacement Grips
Tennis is a sport in which you run around the court a lot. So, it’s natural for your hands to sweat a lot. However, regular use and excessive sweat will cause the grip on your racket handle to wear out over time. So, you have two choices: overgrips or replacement grips. The use of overgrips, like so many other aspects of tennis, is a matter of personal preference.
Some people like them, while others don’t. So, let’s look at the two alternatives. First, overgrips are more of a quick fix. Some tennis players, for example, will take a new racket and immediately apply an overgrip to it to preserve the underlying grip. They are, however, intended to be used for a shorter period. Replacement grips are a better long-term solution than overgrips.
I’ve seen some advanced players redo (either overgrip or replacement grips) their rackets between sets when watching pro matches. Overgrips should be changed once a month for recreational players, and replacement grips should be changed every other month. This popular replacement grip has a very cushiony and comfortable feel to it.
Try this well-known overgrip for a quick change to refresh your racquet. Overgrips will need to be replaced twice as often as replacement grips, but replacement grips will cost twice as much.
One of the first things you’ll learn as a beginner is the various tennis grips. Your instructor may offer some popular grips that will most likely suit you well. Still, by increasing your understanding of the numerous common grips, you can experiment to determine what works best. Each grip has advantages and disadvantages, so there is no one-size-fits-all grip for all players. If you have any questions, please let us know.
What Is the Most Popular Grip in Tennis?
The most common forehand grip for regular players is the semi-western forehand tennis grip and full-western forehand tennis grip, both enabling them to hit topspin shots at their convenience. The advantage of these forehand tennis grips is that it allows for a lot of wrist motion while allowing the player to hit through the ball.
The Continental grip, often known as the chopper grip, is the foundation of any beginning tennis player’s game. Because this grip is good for shots such as serves, slices, volleys, and overheads, beginners use it for every stroke to avoid changing grips during a point or rally. These days the two-handed backhand grip is the most common backhand grip.
What Grip Does Novak Use on His Forehand and Backhand?
Novak Djokovic uses a semi-western grip on his forehand side. For his two-handed backhand, Novak uses the standard continental or western grip (for his dominant right hand) and an eastern grip with his non-dominant left.
What Grip Does Roger Federer Use for His Forehand and Backhand?
Federer has a modified eastern grip for his forehand. It is somewhere between the standard eastern forehand grip and the standard semi-western grip. Roger uses the standard backhand grip on his one-handed backhand, an eastern backhand grip.
What Grip Does Rafael Nadal Use for His Forehand and Backhand?
Rafael Nadal hits his forehand with a semi-western grip. For his two-handed backhand, he uses a continental grip for his dominant hand and a semi-western grip for his non-dominant hand, a variation of the traditional eastern grip for the non-dominant hand.
What Grip Does Carlos Alcaraz Use for His Forehand and Backhand?
He hits it with an eastern forehand grip, one bevel over clockwise from the standard continental grip. For his two-handed backhand, Carlos uses the typical continental or western grip (for his dominant right hand) and an eastern grip with his non-dominant left.
Christoph Friedrich is a German tennis player and coach currently residing in Oakland, California. He began his tennis journey at the age of eight and has since dedicated his life to the sport. After working as a tennis coach and hitting partner in New York City for eight years, Christoph decided to share his knowledge and experience with tennis players around the world by creating the My Tennis Expert blog. His goal is to make tennis education accessible to everyone and help players select the best equipment for their game, from racquets and strings to shoes and overgrips. Christoph's extensive research and expertise in tennis technology make him a valuable resource for players of all levels.